Even when you're well into adulthood, your mother's opinion probably still matters quite a bit. On some level, you just want to make her proud. However, that kind of validation isn't always available. For instance, if your mom criticizes these aspects of your life, then you may have a toxic relationship with her. Sometimes the best and healthiest option is to stop relying on her judgement about your life totally.
Again, your desire to be a dutiful child at any age probably comes from a good place. But some parents are legitimately impossible to please. "Toxic relationships include relationships with toxic parents," wrote Darlene Lancer, JD, LMFT, in Psychology Today. "Typically, they do not treat their children with respect as individuals. They won’t compromise, take responsibility for their behavior, or apologize." You may feel powerless around this toxic parent, even when you're a full adult (and maybe even a parent) in your own right. Thankfully, there are plenty of strategies for dealing with a toxic mom, according to Bustle. Setting healthy boundaries, and limiting the time you spend together, are just two of the ways some people manage these tricky relationships. Read on to see whether your mom might show these potentially toxic traits, and consider getting some backup from a therapist if anything hits too close to home.
1. Your Sexual Identity
Your parents aren't required to launch a new PFLAG chapter or anything, but some support in this area is always respectful. "I think some of the most toxic things a mother could say to her kid is 'I don't believe in trans identity,' 'to be good and innocent you can't have sex,' 'your private parts are dirty' — all of which I have heard parents say," as sex educator & consultant Sarah D'Andrea, M.Ed. tells Romper. Cutting remarks about your perfectly healthy and normal sex life as an adult are just out of line.
2. Your Accomplishments
Does it feel like your mom is constantly undermining your progress? "Comments where a mother takes credit for a child's accomplishment can also be toxic and destructive," says relationship coach Lisa Vallejos, Ph.D. "For example, a child wins an award and the mother says something like 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree' instead of allowing the child to be celebrated on their own merit." Whether you're getting a masters degree or trying out a new exercise regime, your mom is there to take the credit.
3. Your Weight
Honestly, this is a super sensitive topic for loads of people, so even the slightest comment can feel like a personal attack. "A toxic mother will bring up your weight and whether it's too little or too heavy according to her own standard of what is acceptable," says trauma therapist Shannon Thomas, author of Healing from Hidden Abuse. "Toxic mothers make themselves the barometer of right and wrong in their children's lives." And there's a very good chance that your weight is never quite right by her standards, whatever the numbers on the scale say.
4. Your Perceived Ranking With Peers
Maybe your mom pits you against peers. "A toxic mother compares her children to other people's kids," says Thomas. "She highlights individual's successes and likes to talk about specific areas where you may be struggling." If your peers happen to graduate college or get engaged before you do, then there's a big chance this news will be used against you in some way.
5. Things You Can't Change
This is an especially frustrating criticism. "But, moms should especially steer clear of criticizing or demeaning things that kids can’t change — such as their looks," as media psychiatrist & bestselling author Carole Lieberman M.D. tells Romper. "For example, never say, 'I wish your eyes were blue instead of brown.'" There isn't much you can do about these sorts of comments anyway, because it isn't like you can grow five inches taller or instantly change careers just to placate a parent.
For the most part, criticisms from a toxic mom shouldn't run your life. That being said, in some cases there may be a fine line between what toxic and what ia is a fine line between have to run your life in any way, and a bit of distance from her might be healthier for you anyway.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.